# Sequences with 2NT Bid by Advancer

## Clarifying 2NT bids in competition

Mark Abraham / Niclas Jönsson

Theory: That when we have already shown a suit or suit(s) and the opponents have entered the auction at the one- or two-level (other than by doubling, we which ignore) then we will not want to use 2NT in a natural sense.

Instead 2NT is used to show a hand capable of three-level action in the context of the auction and vulnerability. Direct three-level action also shows a hand capable of three-level action. However there are hands that are shapely and are merely contesting a part-score, and other hands which are interested in playing in game that are in danger of being preempted out by the opponents’ actions. We can utilize the 2NT-or-3-level choices to differentiate these hand types.

2NT will sometimes be the stronger action, and sometimes the weaker action, depending on the logic of the auction. The criterion that determines is the action(s) previously taken by the bidder’s partner.

1. If partner has shown weakness, then there may be real danger that the opponents own this auction. Bidding 2NT with the weaker style of hand may allow the opponents an easy “action” double leading to a penalty of our three-level contract. Additionally we would like to act preemptively when we suspect they own the hand. Hence, when partner has shown weakness, then direct three-level action is weaker than going via the “Good” 2NT.
2. If partner has shown values, then we may be interested in bidding a game constructively when the bidder holds the strong hand. We are also in grave danger of being preempted further, so that we need to take direct descriptive action with our stronger hands. We do not mind further action by the opponents (at the three-level) when we only had a hand contesting the part-score. Hence, when partner has shown values, then direct three-level action is stronger than going via the “Bad” 2NT.

It remains to define what actions by partner show weakness, and which show values. We choose that partner shows weakness only by

• responding 1D to 1C (and not having later shown significant shape),
• passing,
• making a two-level weak jump shift,
• making a weak jump overcall,
• raising opener's major to the two level in any manner (including 1M-P-2M, 1H-X-2D, 1S-X-2S, 1M-2Y-2M, 1M-1NT-2M etc),
• making a one-level overcall, or by
• acting over their strong club or forcing pass opening.

All other actions show values.

The 2NT bids require partner to take correctable actions. When partner would have passed a natural 3C bid that had the strength that has now announced by the 2NT bid, then partner must bid 3C, which the 2NT bidder will now pass. If partner would have taken some action over a 3C bid, then he is obliged to either make the lowest bid he would have passed, or take some other strong action.

Doubles in such auctions are takeout unless otherwise defined (e.g. support doubles of Simple Overcalls). When the opponents have opened a weak two or an anchored two-suiter, or something similar, then we have Lebensohl continuations after a double. When the opponents interfere at the two-level over our 1NT bid (or equivalent) then we have Lebensohl continuations (and takeout doubles).

An example is in order:

Here your negative double shows values, so partner’s 2NT will be a weaker hand.

PardRHOYouLHO

1H1SX2S

2NTPass?

If you held Qxx xx Jxxx Kxxx then you would have passed if partner bid a non-encouraging 3C, so you must bid 3C. If partner then bids 3D then you will also pass, since partner’s strength was expressed by 2NT. Likewise you will pass his correction to 3H, which shows an opening hand with a likely seven-card suit.

If you held xx AQ xxxx KJTxx then you would again bid 3C, since partner’s 2NT has already warned you that he is only interested in part-score. You would also pass any correction by him. (It is true partner might hold x KJxxxxx AQJ xx but you will have another chance after his 3H bid; you certainly don’t want to force the auction now, and be in 4H or 5C when he has xx Kxxxx Kx AQxx)

If you held xx Kx AJxx KQJxx then you cannot bid 3C. Partner will pass holding Jx AJxxx Qx Axxx when 5C is on, and will also pass holding Kxx AJxxx xx Axxx when 3NT and 5C have play. You also cannot bid 3D, for partner will pass with x AJTxx KQxxx xx when 5D should be played. Likewise you cannot bid 3H, for partner will pass when holding Qxx AQJTxxx Q xx when game in hearts will roll home. You should bid 3S to cater for all these possibilities. Clearly you are insisting on playing in game, and partner will cooperate by bidding 3NT if he holds an appropriate stopper and hand.

If you held AQx Qx KJxx KTxx then you are interested in playing a game opposite any hand partner might have, and can bid 3NT to offer him that contract (remember he has bid notrumps already, so your stopper needs to be full!)

There are a few sequences where the 2NT bidder has already had the opportunity to show values, and has elected not to. On these occasions, the level of contract is no longer in question for that hand, and a 2NT bid shows tolerance for two contracts. 2NT will be this 2-way “scramble” bid only when it is clear that level of contract cannot be in doubt for the hand bidding 2NT. The 2NT bidder's partner may have other plans, of course.

These notes are based on thoughts arising from the series in the OKbridge Spectator (available via for OKbridge members) on 2NT bids in competition by British expert Marc Smith.

The following sections provide clarifications in the various positions and some sample auctions. These are provided only for completeness – except for hands with support for partner’s suit, they can be derived from the above principles.

### Sequences with 2NT bid by advancer

• Note that advancer is defined as the partner of the hand to make the first defensive action in the auction (see, for example, Auctions 6, 7 & 8).
• We retain the Marc Smith notion that a free bid by advancer will have values, and that the values are shown by the choice of 2NT or 3-level action. (See footnotes 1 & 2 when raising partner's suit)
• When overcaller has shown near opening values or equivalent (2-level overcall, takeout double, strong NT overcall), then, when holding good values as advancer, we are concerned about being preempted. Thus 2NT shows a "bad" hand and direct 3-level action is a good hand (Auctions 1, 2, 4 & 6). This minimizes the effect of opener re-raising preemptively.
• From the alternate perspective, when overcaller does not or need not have substantial values, then advancer will wish to act as high as possible with weaker competitive hands to preempt the opponent's auctions (Auctions 3 & 5).
• When the level of contract is not in question, usually because advancer's range is known (and weak), then 2NT indicates two possible places to play, and requests overcaller to act as his hand dictates. (See Auctions 7 & 8 in the contexts of Auctions 1 & 2)
• The number of suits bid by the opponents is immaterial in deciding the good/bad status of 2NT, but will affect the type of hands that can be held for the 2NT bids. (See Auction 2 vs Auction 4, and Auction 6)

Sequences / Meaning
1 / 1S / X / 2S / X
2NT!
3Y! / Responsive
Bad (competitive to invitational)
Good (GF)
2 / 1S / 2H / 2S / X
2NT!
3H
3Y! / Responsive - minors
Bad (competitive to invitational)
4-card raise[1]
Good (GF)
3 / 1H / 1S / 2H / X
2NT!
3Y! / Responsive - minors
Good (competitive to invitational)
4 / 1S / 2D / 2H / X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Bad (competitive to invitational)
Good (GF)
5 / 1C / 1D / 2S / X / XX
2NT!
Good (competitive to invitational)
6 / 1S / X / 1D
2D / 2S / P
X
2NT!
3Y! / Responsive
Bad (competitive to invitational)
Good (GF)
7 / 1S
P / X
X / 2S
P / P
2NT!
3Y / This pass limits the hand… (Auction 1)
Two places to play
Clear preference
8 / 1S
2S / P / P / 2D
X / 2H / 2S
P / P
2NT!
3Y! / This pass limits the hand… (Auction 2)
Two places to play
Clear preference
9 / 1S
P
2S / P
X
P / 1NT
P
P / P
2C
2NT!
3C! / Forced to bid at the two level, so shows no game interest
Two places to play
Clear club preference

### Sequences with 2NT bid by overcaller

The same principles apply here as for the sequences for advancer. When advancer has shown some values then we are concerned about further preemption, and need to act at the 3-level with our good hands. When advancer has not shown strength, then we are concerned about being doubled at the three-level, and so bid 2NT with our good hands.

Sequences / Meaning
1 / 2S / X / 1S
P / X
2NT!
Good (probably 16+ type)
2 / 2H / P / 1H
P / X
X
2NT!
3Y! / Takeout of H
Good

### Sequences with 2NT bid by Opener

• The same principles apply here as for the sequences for advancer. When responder has shown some values then we are concerned about further preemption, and need to act at the 3-level with our good hands. Clearly the limited nature of some of the opening bids affects the type of hands that can be considered "good" or "bad". When responder has not shown strength, then we are concerned about being doubled at the three-level, and so bid 2NT with our good hands.
• The good side of opening strong balanced hands with 1NT, 1C or 2D is that after other openings we almost never have hands that want to bid a natural 2NT in competition. Even after partner's negative doubles 2NT is best used as a range description rather than a suggestion of contract.
• Auctions 1-5 are all identical in that responder has taken no action and is probably a poor hand, hence opener needs to be concerned about being doubled at the 3-level for penalties.
• In Auctions 6-11, responder has taken some action and opener is now usually concerned with further preemption by the opponents, and thus bids good hands at the three level to negate this.

Sequences / Meaning
1 / 2S / P / P / 1D
X
2NT!
3Y! / Spade shortage
Good (was planning a 3-level rebid)
Bad (shapely & competing)
2 / 1S / P / 2S / 1H
X
2NT!
3Y! / Spade shortage
Good (was planning a 3-level rebid)
Bad (shapely & competing)
3 / P / X / P / 2S / 1D
X
2NT!
3Y! / Spade shortage
Good (was planning a 3-level rebid)
Bad (shapely & competing)
4 / 2H / P / P / 1S
X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Good (3-level rebid, e.g. over 1NT response)
Bad (shapely & competing)
5 / P / X / P / 2H / 1S
X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Good (3-level rebid, e.g. over 1NT response)
Bad (shapely & competing)
6 / 2H / X / P / 1S
2NT!
3Y! / Bad (bidding because I have to)
Good (better than minimum, or shapely, etc.)
7 / 2S / X / P / 1D
2NT!
3Y! / Bad (bidding because I have to)
Good (better than minimum, or shapely, etc.)
8 / 1H / X / 2H / 1D
X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Bad (better than minimum, or shapely, etc.)
Good (GF)
9 / P / X / 1H / 2S / 1C
X
2NT!
3Y / Spade shortage
Good (near GF)
10 / P / X / 1S / 2H / 1D
X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Good (near GF)
11 / X / XX / 2H / 1C
X
2NT!
3Y! / Heart shortage
Good (near GF)

### Sequences with 2NT bid by Responder

The same principles apply here as for the sequences for advancer. When opener has shown some values then we are concerned about further preemption, and need to act at the 3-level with our good hands. Opener is defined to be strong once he has opened (even with a multi 2D or other weak hand), so the good 2NT by responder doesn't arise.

Sequences / Meaning
1 / 1D / 2S / X
2NT!
3Y! / Negative
Bad (just competing, could be weakish)
Good (GF)
2 / 2S / 1D
X / 1S
P / P
2NT!
3Y! / Bad (forced to bid)
Good (interested in things)
3 / 1S / 1D
X / 2D / P
2S / P
X
2NT!
3Y! / Spade shortage
Bad (just competing, in context)
Good (trippy hand - x QT9xx x QJTxxx or xxx xxx KT9xxx x?)

[1] Note here we can use a direct 3-level raise with 4-card support, and a 2NT Lebensohl bid with 3-card support. The meaning of 1S-2H-2S-3H is "good" (and alertable) in that we have a 4-card raise, not that we are GF. With a genuine invitation with 3 or 4-card support, double and then raise, since no cuebid is available.

[2] Here we have 2S available for 3-card support, so the direct 3S (and 4S) are preemptive. With a genuine spade invite, use 2NT and then a S raise or as appropriate.